Working 40 hours a week or more can be stressful for people, especially when they’re in a demanding job. Stress through long working hours and a busy job can take its toll on employers/employees. Absenteeism and employee turnover is often caused by people who experience heavy levels of stress on the work floor. Over the years, psychologists, doctors, economists and even wealthy businessmen such as Carlos Slim, have pledged for a shorter working week. There are many benefits of working less.
Below are ten reasons for a shorten working week:
Smaller carbon footprint: Countries with shorter average hours tend to have a smaller ecological footprint. As a nation, the UK is currently consuming well beyond its share of natural resource. Moving out of the fast lane would take us away from the convenience-led consumption that is damaging our environment, and leave time for living more sustainably.
Stronger economy: If handled properly, a move towards a shorter working week would improve social and economic equality, easing our dependence on debt-fuelled growth – key ingredients of a robust economy. It would be competitive, too: the Netherlands and Germany have shorter work weeks than Britain and the US, yet their economies are as strong or stronger.
Better employees: Those who work less tend to be more productive hour for hour than those regularly pushing themselves beyond the 40 hours per week point. They are less prone to sickness and absenteeism and make up a more stable and committed workforce.
Lower unemployment: Average working hours may have spiralled, but they are not spread equally across our economy – just as some find themselves working all hours of the day and night, others struggle to find work at all. A shorter working week would help to redistribute paid and unpaid time more evenly across the population.
Improved well-being: Giving everybody more time to spend as they choose would greatly reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being, as well as mental and physical health. Working less would help us all move away from the current path of living to work, working to earn and earning to consume. It would help us all to reflect on and appreciate the things that we truly value in life.
More equality between men and women: Women currently spend more time than men doing unpaid work. Moving towards a shorter working week as the ‘norm’ would help change attitudes about gender roles, promote more equal shares of paid and unpaid work, and help revalue jobs traditionally associated with women’s work.
Higher quality, affordable childcare: The high demand for childcare stems partly from a culture of long working hours which has spiralled out of control. A shorter working week would help mothers and fathers better balance their time, reducing the costs of full-time childcare. As well as bringing down the cost of childcare, working fewer hours would give parents more time to spend with their children. This opportunity for more activities, experiences and two-way teaching and learning would have benefits for mothers and fathers, as well as their children.
More time for families, friends and neighbours. Spending less time in paid work would enable us to spend more time with and care for each other – our parents, children, friends and neighbours – and to value and strengthen all the relationships that make our lives worthwhile and help to build a stronger society.
Making more of later life: A shorter and more flexible working week could make the transition from employment to retirement much smoother, spread over a longer period of time. People could reduce their hours gradually over a decade or more. Shifting suddenly from long hours to no hours of paid work can be traumatic, often causing illness and early death.
A stronger democracy: We’d all have more time to participate in local activities, to find out what’s going on around us, to engage in politics, locally and nationally, to ask questions and to campaign for change
It is apparent that long working hours and a long working week is one of the biggest causes of stress on the work floor. High stress levels often lead to employee turnover and absenteeism. Therefore, it is a good idea to shorten the working week for the benefit of the employee. However, not only does the employee benefit from working less, it also provides economic, social and even environmental benefits. Working fewer hours for money leaves more time for the essential activities of everyday life that we do without being paid. Bringing up children, preparing meals, caring for loved ones, learning things, making and repairing things, inventing and creating things, meeting up with friends, venturing into the open air, helping out in our neighbourhoods, playing music, reading, running, tending gardens, playing sports, politicising, philosophising, campaigning to change the local high street and the world at large.